Reading books will bring you on the adventure of a lifetime. You will laugh. You will cry. You will travel to places unknown. Most of all you will learn, be it new words or words of wisdom. How awesome is that?
Whether your taste lies in fiction, biography, history, positive psychology, or a myriad other genres there is always something that engages you and opens your mind. What resonates with you on one particular day may make little or no impact on another. Our mind often seeks what we need most and our understanding of the words written is amplified as our emotions engage. The journey begins and has no ending. There is always a treasure to find and like Santiago in The Alchemist, the treasure is inside us all.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
The message in The Alchemist is that we all have a ‘Personal Legend’. The choice is ours to follow. Santiago, the young boy in this novel, is in search of treasure, a treasure that is ultimately found within.
In the following paragraph the alchemist tells their captors that Santiago “can transform himself into the wind”. The boy is petrified and has no idea how to do this. “Don’t give into your fears,” said the alchemist, in a strangely gentle voice. “If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.”
“But I have no idea how to turn myself into the wind.”
“If a person is living out his Personal Legend, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
At some point, we are all asked to make changes, to transform our lives and live wholly: not an easy task, yet one that will bring us to a place of serenity. We may not be asked to transform ourselves into the wind, but whatever changes we make will enhance our lives.
What is your Personal Legend? Can you make every day of your life extraordinary in some way? Whatever your goal or dream is, believe it! Believe it is within your grasp. One more step is often all that is needed to get there. You are the author of your Personal Legend. Begin!
LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
The freedom to live peacefully in the skin you were born with is denied daily to millions of people. Adverse judgements are made, civil rights are denied and choices of how one lives are limited. History is in the past, forgotten, something written in books that happened a long time ago, but our hearts have not forgotten, our minds reverberate with the stories of our ancestors. Yet, many of these stories, like apartheid in South Africa are the imprints laid by people still living, imprints that leave deep and lasting grooves.
In my short time living in Cape Town, I was fortunate to hear these stories first-hand and especially hear the story behind the words, see the sorrow that formed the tears of the next generation. I hope I managed to capture some of the pain in my novel, Maya’s Journey.
This extract from Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, is a joy to read and a reminder that the past creates the present. He began writing in 1974, while imprisoned on Robben Island, a process which had to be done secretly. Can you imagine that?
“Without the tireless labour of my old comrades Walter Sisulu and Ahmed Kathrada for reviving my memories, it is doubtful the manuscript would have been completed. The copy of the manuscript which I kept with me was discovered by the authorities and confiscated. However, in addition to their unique calligraphic skills, my co-prisoners Mac Maharaj and Isu Chiba had ensured that the original manuscript safely reached its destination. I resumed work on it after my release from prison in 1990.”
Fortunately, for all of us this wonderful book was published. Many of us can perceive the unintended benefits of a dark period in our lives. The strength we gained and the courage to move forward. The power to acknowledge the greatness within us all and act accordingly. This extract says it all.
“The policy of apartheid created a deep and lasting wound in my country and my people. All of us will spend many years, if not generations, recovering from that profound hurt. But the decades of oppression and brutality had another, unintended effect, and that was that it produced the Oliver Tambos, the Walter Sisulus, the Chief Luthulis, the Yusuf Dadoos, the Bram Fischers, the Robert Sobukwes of our time – men of such extraordinary courage, wisdom, and generosity that their like may never be known again. Perhaps it requires such depths of oppression to create such heights of character. My country is rich in the minerals and gems that lie beneath its soil, but I have always known that its greatest wealth is its people, finer and truer than the purest diamonds.”
Adversity can strengthen us, make us more courageous and resilient. The process is always painful, but how often have we looked back on a situation and seen the positive aspects? Certainly, the last thing you want to hear in the midst of trauma.
What was important before becomes less important now. Our appreciation of life is heightened, and we become stronger beings, stronger characters.
Thus, arose from the ashes of apartheid great men, among them the iconic Nelson Mandela, a man who brought new meaning to the words – reconciliation and forgiveness. A man of inspiration. A man of the people.
“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.”
Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has a journey to make. When we make that journey with love and gratitude, it helps us overcome any obstacles more easily. When we live our story with an abundance of humaneness, treat each other with respect, the ragged edges of life become smooth.
Creating a new world of compassion and kindness, wherein all people are accepted for who they are is a lovely gift to the next generation.
Our legacy to the next generation will be the way we live our lives and lead by example. Teaching them how to find the diamonds in the rough.
Do not live your life in expectation of gratitude, but with gratitude.
Let the light within you chase away the shadows and light up the way for others.
Whatever book you read, find the nugget of gold, be it one word, a sentence, a paragraph, that gives you a sense of awe and wonder.
Read my blog – MEET WILLPOWER
I have written two novels available on Amazon!